Approaching your Child when you Suspect he is using Drugs

All the signs point to a fact no parents want to believe. The insolent behavior, money missing from your wallet and plummeting grades shout drug use. Your teenager is using drugs and you have to take action. How do you approach your child’s drug use?

The head-on approach

Tell your child you suspect they are using drugs. Calmly explain the dangers and your displeasure. Make it perfectly clear you will not tolerate drug use or the behaviors exhibited by drug users.

Take control of your home

Search your child’s bedroom. In your home, you have the right to search any room you please, do so. Easy hiding places teenagers use include:

• Shirt, jacket, pant pockets and inside the hoods of coats or hoodies

• Inside shoes and socks

• Under the bottom drawers of dressers

• Under the mattress

• Behind light switches or electric outlets

• The early Play Station 3 has an empty cubby on the back and the Play Station 2 has an empty expansion bay on the back.

• Hollowed out markers, highlighters and sharpies

• Hollowed out deodorants, flashlights, lotion bottles, dental floss holders, toothpaste tubes and any everyday product easily emptied.

If you find drugs or paraphernalia, make it obvious you searched the room and confront your teenager. Let your child know you will search anytime you suspect drug use.

Make your child understand you know he stole from you and he will pay you back. The head-on approach in early drug intervention works.

Set new boundaries and explain the punishments associated with each infraction. Implement drug testing. When your child wants to go out with friends, test for drug use. A positive result means no freedom. Consistently follow through or your child will not take you seriously.

Your child is abusing prescription medications

Prescription drug abuse is at epidemic levels across the nation. Children steal a few pills from a parent’s bottle and use them or sell them to friends. These interactions take place in elementary school, middle school and high school.

Adults feed the problem by selling their prescriptions to children or supplying teenagers with the drugs to sell for them. Commonly abused prescriptions include:

• Tranquilizers used for anxiety disorders: Alprazolam (Xanax), Clonazepam, Lorazepam (Ativan) and Diazepam (Valium)

• Pain medications: Hydrocodone (Vicodin), Oxycodone (Percocet, Endocet, Roxicet and Oxycontin)

• ADD medications: Methylphenidate (Concerta and Ritalin)

Lock your prescriptions in a safe and choose a combination using the maximum characters allowed. Make the combination random by picking the characters out of a hat. Create a fake contact and use the combination as a phone number or a note on your mobile phone or email. Do not name it combination.

The compassionate side of the head-on approach

Offer help to your child. Find a child counselor who specializes in working with teens on drugs. These professionals know how to make your child understand the dangers and control the urges to use drugs.

Unfortunately, parents will suspect their child is using drugs but do nothing. They go into denial until their teenager gets into serious trouble and the problem is out of control.

Do not live with suspicion. Approach your child head-on and ask open-ended questions. If you know your child is lying, tell him. This is not a game of cat and mouse. Make your child face the lies, explain the lies and move forward.

The biggest mistake parents make is avoiding the problem until it is too late. Intervene at your first suspicion and confront your child. You do not need physical evidence. Your child is under your rule until he moves out of your home. Use your love to save your child’s future, and possibly, his life.